Pope Benedict XVI’s controversial World Youth Day appearance in Madrid took an interesting turn when a sudden bout of severe weather, including “powerful winds and sheets of rain struck at a vast air base, whipping off his skullcap, shaking the stage and knocking over at least one tent.”Although the Pope was unable to finish his speech, Vatican officials said that the “content of his entire speech [...] was still valid and could be published.”
In the few sentences spoken before the wind and rain forced him to leave the stage, Pope Benedict defended marriage as a commitment between a man and a woman, stating:
“The Lord calls many people to marriage, in which a man and a woman, in becoming one flesh, find fulfillment in a profound life of communion.”
Pope Benedict XVI has a history of denouncing gay and lesbian relationships, including an appearance in Portugal last year where he described gay marriage as “insidious and dangerous.” He has also spoken out against abortion, an important issue in Spain today where the Socialist Government has brought in “sweeping liberal reforms” that allow citizens easier access to “abortion, gay marriage, and fast-track divorce.”
Benedict’s most recent visit to Spain was controversial from the beginning, as the 60 million Euro ($85 million) cost to host the religious leader represents a real hardship for the Spanish economy, where the unemployment rate is at 21 percent. His appearance in the traditionally Catholic country was marked by resistance from clergy members, protests and an attempted kiss-in staged by gay and lesbian activists.
Upon his departure, the Pope promised to pray for all Spaniards, especially the young people of the country. He said:
“I am sure that they (the young people) will contribute the best they have to offer through their faith in Christ, so that this great country can face the challenges of the present hour.”
Photo credit: Beyond Forgetting